Stranger kindness: One Alabaster boys battle has become a citys cause

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Roseanna Paulin sat admiring her youngest child, Joey Paulin.

&8220;The kindness of complete strangers just overwhelms me,&8221; she said.

At two years old, Joey has no muscle tone, cannot sit, stand, walk or even swallow. This happy smiling boy isn&8217;t always so quiet and calm on days he suffers from seizures, which are most days.

Joey suffers from Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy with Complex I & V Defect, a rare, progressive disease doctors diagnosed him with at three months.

Saddest of all, doctors expect him to live for only two more years.

Paulin explained, &8220;Kids that have this just don&8217;t have the flow of energy that we do. They don&8217;t have that co-enzyme Q10 is what they&8217;re lacking.&8221;

What does not lack, however, is the community of support the Paulins found in Shelby County.

&8220;Everyone is so in tune to our family,&8221; Paulin said. &8220;If I don&8217;t stop for groceries for two weeks, when I come in people are like, &8220;You were in the hospital weren&8217;t you? You would never get this community anywhere else.&8221;

Since Joey&8217;s diagnosis, the family has seemed to grow larger by the day.

Paulin said the ARC of Shelby County was one of the many organizations that have guided them on their journey. &8220;You want to talk about extensions of our family,&8221;

she said, &8220;Jane Keith visited him in Children&8217;s and fell in love with him. She told me about the Shelby ARC and that they could provide therapy for Joey.&8221;

Since he was six months old, Joey has received speech, occupation and physical therapy in his home at least once a month through the ARC of Shelby. For the Paulins, the ARC is an instant go-to for advice, encouragement and a voice that can be heard.

&8220;They are all angels here on earth. Jane fought for me for Joey&8217;s bath seat, because nobody would pay for it. He was getting too heavy to hold and then he had a seizure one day and he slipped and his head hit the side of the tub.&8221;

June Romero, an ARC special educator for Joey said, &8220;The family has been dealt a very hard blow but has risen above everything.&8221; She commended Paulin for using resources in Shelby County to help her and the family through Joey&8217;s illness.

These resources cover a wide variety of needs, and over the past two years have become near and dear to the family. Joey&8217;s pharmacist at Publix calls before he goes on vacation to make sure all Joey&8217;s medications are filled.

One hairdresser at a Headstart in Alabaster cuts Joey&8217;s hair, when everyone else was afraid to. The Ladies Auxiliary at the Paulins&8217; church hosted a spaghetti supper, raising over $1,200 to go towards Joey&8217;s medical bills.

Every time she turns a corner, it seems Mrs. Paulin meets a new person in her community ready to lend a hand.

Through her website, visit/joeypaulin, Paulin regularly updates members of the community, new extensions of the Paulins&8217; community family and even curious strangers on Joey&8217;s day-by-day progress.

&8220;He&8217;s just touched so many people, it&8217;s not unusual to get 200 hits in a day,&8221;

Paulin said.

&8220;And there&8217;s days where I&8217;m just ready to throw in the towel and there will be some inspirational message that somebody left. It means a lot. It&8217;s the best therapy for me.&8221;